The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Breaking up is hard to do

It's not you, it's me.

I hope that we can still be friends.

Maybe if we take a break for a while, we'll be able to salvage this.

Please don't take this personally.

It's all coming back to me now... that sickening pit-in-your-stomach feeling, the inability to focus on normal conversation as I thought about the task at hand. How would I word it? What would the response be? Would I feel relieved or just sad when it was all over?

I thought that I was done with that nonsense forever when Paul and I said "til death do we part." But today, for the first time in over 10 years, I'm going to be mumbling those horrible platitudes again. This time, I'm not walking away from a romance gone wrong. This time, I'm saying goodbye to one of the greatest support systems I've had as a parent.

We made it through all of the firsts and quite a few seconds and beyond. As other playgroups around us fell apart, we simply made a few adjustments to accomodate for preschool and kept right on meeting. "What," we wondered smugly, "would ever cause us to split up?" The answer, I'm afraid, is my children.

When your children are very young, you pick their friends, based solely on how interested you are in sharing playroom space with their parents on a regular basis. Whether the moms share a similar outlook on sharing and sugary snacks matters far more than how compatible their children are, especially when said children are so young that the most interacting they do is blowing each other an occasional raspberry. But it's a funny thing about kids. They grow up. And they eventually form their own opinions.

Both of my kids hate playgroup. We meet at an hour of the day when my kids just want to unwind and realx. They might be able to overcome the late hour for the right group of kids, but ever since their closest friends in the group moved away last summer, this is just not the right group of kids for them. All of the other kids are lovely. But they are very, very different from my kids, and my kids know it. They just can't seem to find any common ground. And so every week, instead of happily playing with their peers, they both sit at my side, stuffing as many snacks in their mouths as they can and begging to go home.

I've been telling myself for months that it doesn't matter how much they like these kids, that I am entitled to an hour or two of adult interaction a week. But in truth, I'm not really getting the kind of interaction I had hoped for when I'm bargaining with my kids for five more minutes of time with my friends (irony, sweet irony). And I'm paying for those five minutes all evening long, since my kids are bears every Tuesday evening from the moment I finally acquiesce and take them home until the moment I pour them into bed. Neither eats any dinner after all of the snacks they consumed. They both whine and cling to me and whine and whine some more. Playgroup days, I finally have to admit to myself, are just. no. longer. fun.

Without me, there will be three families left; barely enough to keep a playgroup going. I know that I have more social outlets than the other three mommies, all of whom still appear to look anxiously forward to Tuesdays each week. Even though they've all watched my kids sit on the sidelines for months now, I know that this is going to throw them. They have been my friends long enough that I know exactly how the discussion will go next week when I am gone. I know who will want to dissect my departure and analyze whether I like them any more. I know who will defend me to the death. And most of all, I know they'll all be hurt.

Sometimes people just grow apart.

The irony here is that my friends and I aren't the ones who've grown apart; our kids have. I hope they'll understand that. Perhaps the playgroup will have new life as a dining club in the evenings after our kids are tucked in bed. Perhaps not. But either way, this is the end of an era. My very own Mommy ministone. And unlike my kids' ministones, it doesn't feel bittersweet. It just feels sad.

UPDATE: I chickened out. Still committed. And both of my kids are, as usual, a whiny mess. Did I mention that I was never very good at this breakup thing?


At 5:10 PM, Blogger Kristy said...

Mine has come to an end as well, for similiar, and yet, at the same time, entirely different, reasons. I think your "break up" will be taken best if it's accompanied by your plans to set up a dinner club.

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Rosemary said...

Rebecca, I'm no good at the break up thing either. I signed up for a play, was happy just to be a part, even doing props, but... I picked up this new job and just can't do play anymore. I'm exhausted. I wrote a very nice, succinct note, expected to be thrown out on my ear and -- they understand -- whenever I can make it is ok... BUT I DON'T WANT TO MAKE IT! sigh. Off to play practice...

At 7:07 PM, Blogger Gretchen C. said...

Oh Rebecca -- but you have to do it! I Matt broke up with the preschool today, so I know how you feel. (He started preschool on January 30 and just isn't ready.) If your kids aren't happy then you've got to do it, no matter how much you don't want to. Life changes and moves on, and nothing stays the same; but that's not a bad thing.

At 9:07 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

Rebecca, I was right there with you, feeling the bittersweet pangs, until the Update - when I started laughing. I know it's not funny, but it is...

You're braver than I at any rate. The way I handle these things is to skip a gathering or two and then end up signing up for swim lessons - or something that happens to meet at the same time - and then I go on to the group about how upsetting it is that I can't come anymore. I'm chicken. But breaking up *is* hard to do.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Liesl said...

As I read your post, I was wondering if perhaps you could still participate in the adult evenings. And then Kristy posted a similar idea. It's obvious that group is important to you. Also, I'm sure the other moms have seen Julia's and Evan's discontent. I'd bet if you explained your dilemma to them, they'd be glad to have you participate in whatever way turns out to be workable for you.

They sound like good friends :)

At 9:24 PM, Blogger Steph said...

I feel your pain. I'm sure that your friends will understand your reasons and that they have seen how Julia and Evan aren't as into it as they used to be. It will all work out, and it will also make those nights out even more fun to catch up and hang out. Our playgroup has also shifted to Moms nights out recently...

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Sarah said...

I just went through a playgroup break-up, too...we just couldn't see eye to eye on so many things. My kid didn't like going and neither did I. I thought 2 years was a good run! But, like you I led the playgroup on for a while before I quit for once and for all...Thanks for the great post!

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Kristy said...


Do I need to repeat what I just wrote on Rosemary's blog?

All together now: NO.

Hugs, though. Followed by a swift kick in the arse!


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